Glass Mosaic Tile Art: Color and Contrast
Working with color in mosaics is much more challenging than most other art media, such as paint and colored pencils.† If we, as mosaic artists, canít mix colors to create new ones, are we stuck with what the glass manufacturers give us?
Working with color in mosaics is much more challenging than most other art media, such as paint and colored pencils.† The painterís color palette is limited only by the painterís imagination in mixing any number of colors until the desired hue is achieved.† In contrast, the mosaic artistís color palette is constrained by the limited colors that glass manufacturers decide to produce, which are typically determined by what sells best.
As an example, letís compare the mosaic artistís choices for the color blue to the painterís choices.† One of my favorite online mosaic tile stores offers 14 various colors of blue vitreous glass tiles; whereas, a popular online artistís paint store offers only 13 colors of blue paint.† However, the paint store also offers 91 various shades of reds, yellows, oranges, greens, purples, pinks, browns, grays, whites, and more.† The painter can choose to blend any one of the 13 blue colors with any number of the other 91 colors.† Unlike a painter, the mosaic artist canít blend various colors to create a new one.† So, while the mosaic artist is limited to only 14 colors of blue, the painter has an almost limitless palette.
If we, as mosaic artists, canít mix colors to create new ones, are we stuck with what the glass manufacturers give us?† Certainly not.† This is where the artistís imagination and creativity are tested.† Unlike the painter who mixes colors to create new ones, we blend different colors and shades by placing them next to each other to give the illusion of color change.† For example, by alternating small pieces of dark blue and light blue tesserae, the result is that our eyes interpret the pattern as medium blue when viewed from a distance.† If we view the pattern from only 12 inches, then our eyes can distinguish the pattern and we see an obvious checkerboard.† However, when viewed from 12 feet, we must focus more to distinguish the checkerboard because our eyes interpret the blend as a single color (i.e., we see medium blue instead of a bunch of small pieces of dark blue and light blue).
Color is equally as important to your mosaicís look as andamento (i.e., the visual movement of your mosaic created by placing tesserae in specific patterns).† Artists choose colors to stir emotions or simply because they like how the colors look.† The brain is sensitive to certain color schemes, so whatever motivates your color choices, you must ensure the combinations donít irritate or bore the viewer.
Be aware of how the eyes see varying color characteristics when colors are juxtaposed.† Plan your desired look before cutting and gluing any tesserae.† Do you want contrast or do you want an intentional blended look where the colors are barely discernable?† When you determine the overall look, mood, and feel that you want your mosaic to represent, youíll know how to achieve it by combining color with andamento.
Experiment with different hues, tones, and intensities to create texture and shading.† Browse the Internet for mosaic artists of different styles to see how they use color.† Note the feelings that each piece evokes in you, then think about how the artistís use of color contributes to creating those feelings.
The best way to learn how to use color in mosaics is to start cutting and gluing your own glass.† Yes, youíll probably make a few mistakes along the way, but learn from them and donít repeat them.† Maybe someday, Iíll be in a museum marveling at the incredible use of color in one of your mosaics!
Remember, making mosaic art is easy. You can do it.† Yes, you can!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Enslen has created lovely mosaic art for 30 years. His new eBook, Mosaic Pieces: Essentials for Beginner and Professional Mosaic Artists, gives you step-by-step details for creating your own mosaic masterpieces. Visit his website and read the free sample chapters at Glass Mosaic Tile Art.† Let him show you just how easy it is. With Bill's help, you can do it.† Yes, you can!